The Lord’s Sowing
And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.”
– Matthew 13:3–4
When we think of sowers, we picture those who use great care and judgment in determining where to plant their crops. That’s very normal. For example some ground is too acidic for certain crops. Some is too shady, and some too dry. No one grows oranges in Ohio, and no one grows apples in Florida. Where a given crop is planted makes a big difference. Any farmer will consider this.
But the Lord Jesus is different. He is not an ordinary farmer sowing ordinary seed. He sows Himself, and He sows indiscriminately. Some of His sowing falls beside the road, some in rocky soil, and some among the thorns. Of course these different kinds of soil represent our hearts. If He were careful about the soil He planted in, none of us would qualify. He cannot classify people. He can only classify the condition of the people, because everyone’s condition changes. Maybe now we are good soil, but last year we were the road side. One day we were the rocky places, and the next we were growing thorns. Some days we may have both rocks and thorns. Because of this, the sower sows everywhere to everyone. No one is left out.
We shouldn’t ask what kind of soil we are. We are all of them. It is just that different kinds of soil are more prominent at different times. A young sister may be very good soil until she gets engaged. Then she will be fully occupied with the traffic of her wedding plans. Until it is over, it makes no difference what the Lord sows. If He wants to sow some consecration into her, she would tell Him that right now she only has room in her heart for her new husband. If the Lord tries to touch her new husband, it will quickly become a big rock in her. As they get an apartment and fill it with furniture, all kinds of thorns will grow. However, after a few years when things settle down, the good soil will come out again. When children come, it starts all over. All this is normal and happens to each of us.
We know that the Lord is always ready to forgive and that He will always love us, so we feel it’s easy to run away for a couple of days, months, or even years. But no matter what our condition and no matter how far we run, the Lord’s sowing comes. It comes to us no matter what kind of soil we are at the time. Eventually He will be able to change our heart.
When we share the gospel with others, we are not like the Lord. We are too selective, always looking for the good soil. This is why we end up rarely sharing the gospel with anyone. It seems no one is up to our standard. We must learn from the parable of the sower to scatter the seed everywhere. The Lord simply said, “Behold, the sower went out to sow” (Matt. 13:3). If we want to co-labor with Him to build up a healthy church, this is the way to do it. We should make friends with all kinds of people and bring them into our homes so we can present our Christ to them.
We should not evaluate who is good soil before we talk with them. We should go to whoever is open to hear what we have to say. Just like us, they can be seemingly good soil today, and rocky soil tomorrow. Everyone has some worldly traffic, and everyone grows some thorns. We shouldn’t get discouraged. Everyone, including us, changes . If there is only a small corner with good soil, God will grow something there because He sows everywhere.
Christ is the sower, sowing Himself without preference into all kinds of soil. He sows to everyone who is able to give Him a place to land. As long as there’s some kind of soil, He will sow there. The sower reaches everyone. What happens next depends on the condition of the soil. this gets complicated because we can be all four kinds of soil at different times, or even at the same time.
For example, we may start out the day as mostly good soil after a sweet time in prayer and the word. We love the Lord and easily tell Him how much we desire to give ourselves to Him. Then He touches some little stone hidden deep in the soil. We might not even have known a stone so small was there, but as soon as He touches it, we become defensive and that small stone quickly grows into a big rock. We just told the Lord we would give everything to Him, but this rock seems too much.
When the Lord called Peter and Andrew, they immediately left their nets to follow Him (Matt. 4:19–20). When He invited another man to do the same, the man responded, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father” (8:21). The Lord offered the same invitation to them all. Peter and Andrew were good soil and giving up their livelihood did not become a rock to them. In contrast, the other man allowed his situation to become a big rock. When we look at ourselves, sometimes we are like Peter and Andrew, but most of the time we are like the man who wanted to keep his legal right to bury his father. The Lord seemed to have no sympathy. He told him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead” (v. 22). He then let the man go his way.
The Lord may call us to give ourselves to Him and to serve Him all our life. At such a time, we have the inner feeling that we shouldn’t waste our heart on making a lot of money so we can buy the luxurious things of the world. He wants us to live simply and follow Him. Suddenly, when we hear this call, a little rock hidden deep within us become so big. Everything had been growing so well, but then the Lord touched our living. It seems this is the one thing we cannot give Him, but it also seems that this is the one thing He wants. Now, not only rocks, but the road side traffic and the thorns also come out, to the point that we are almost ready to give up on the Lord. It is not easy to follow the example of Peter and Andrew. We are complicated people. We have all the different kinds of soil in us and we never know which ones will surface.
Yielding a Crop
The psalmist wrote,
He who sits in the heavens laughs.
– Psalm 2:4
What can God do with people like us except to laugh? He wants to grow all the divine, heavenly things in us, but we fight Him for our road side traffic, our little rock, and our beautiful thorns. We are so selective on what we allow Him to touch.
It is good that He is not selective about where He sows. He is generous because He knows that we change so quickly. Our soil may be so good today, but what about tomorrow? We may be poor soil today, but next week everything may change. The Lord just sows, knowing that some will land on good soil to yield a crop.
It is hard to keep the traffic away, but we must allow the Lord to touch it lest our heart become hard. It is also hard to keep our little stones from becoming big rocks, but if we protect ourselves, telling the Lord “No!”, our Christian life will always be shallow. Rocks come from very reasonable, logical stones, such as having a good career, making a good living, or living in a certain neighborhood, but these very reasonable things can become a frustration to what the Lord wants. Remember the man who could not follow the Lord because he first needed to bury his father. There is no record that he ever got a second chance.
If there is no traffic and no stones, the soil is ready to grow what the Lord wants. But for some reason it is easy to let thorns grow also, and moreover, thorns always seem to grow faster and spread more quickly than what we desire to plant, choking out the good crop. Don’t think this cannot happen. We have all these kinds of soil in us, and apart from the Lord’s mercy, the good soil would not stand a chance.
But in every one of us there is at least a small corner that’s called the good soil, and some of what the sower sows lands there. Something wonderful will start to grow. If we can cooperate even a little bit, this small corner will enlarge and begin to push the other soils back. Over time they will occupy our heart less and the good soil more. This is God’s desire for us.
“And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
– Matthew 13:8